07 July 2013

Annotated Game #97: A dubious Slav

This second-round tournament game featured a Slav Defense that could be considered dubious from multiple angles.  The first one is White's 4. Bg5, which is almost never played for a reason.  It gives Black immediate equality by making the bishop a target, weakening the dark squares on the queenside (particularly the e1-h6 diagonal and b2) and if as occurs in the game the bishop is exchanged off, then Black sits quite well with the bishop pair and the doubled f-pawn which covers e5 and g5.

The second dubious feature is the middlegame struggle, which gets a lot of "?!" and some "?" annotations.  This might be somewhat unfair, given the relative complexity of the positions and how understandable it is that in several cases the obvious moves are made rather than the best ones.  However, it is also a wake-up call for us Class players that just because a move is obvious does not mean it should be played automatically.

The attack and defense dynamics are, despite the flaws, interesting to see, starting with White's 16th move. The game becomes quite tactical and the evaluation of the winning side swings back and forth several times.  Some key ideas for future use are highlighted in the analysis, in particular how Black could have improved with 16...Nf8, using solid defense, and then with 18...c5! in order to answer White's flank attack with a break in the center.  In the end, White is too materialistic, being unwilling to sacrifice material in order to break through on the kingside, so Black is able to turn the tables on his attacker.

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